Calamity Jane (1852-1903)
- Calamity Jane was born Martha Jane Canary / Cannary in Missouri, 1852.
- This infamous dare-devil pioneer woman often cross-dressed as a man.
- She was the oldest of six children born to a gambler and a prostitute.
- When orphaned (between the ages of 12 – 14) she looked after her younger siblings. At various times she was employed as a cook, dishwasher, waitress, dance-hall girl, nurse, scout, ox-team driver, and prostitute.
- Calamity Jane was illiterate and an alcoholic.
- She married twice and had two daughters. Claims that she also wed Wild Bill Hickok were fabricated.
- Her fame came from being both a coarse-mouthed sharp-shooter, but also as a kindly nurse.
- She attended the sick in Deadwood during a smallpox epidemic, and is said to have rescued a stage-coach from a Cheyenne attack.
- Claims that she fought in the Indian Wars have not been substantiated.
- Calamity Jane was acquainted with Wild Bill Hickok and friends with Buffalo Bill Cody.
- She performed in Cody’s Wild West Show and also appeared in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.
- She died in South Dakota in 1903.
- In accordance with her own wishes, she was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood.
- There are several theories how the nickname “Calamity Jane” came about. She warned that to offended her was to “court calamity.” But as “the calamity” was also a pseudonym for venereal disease (usually syphilis), she may have acquired this title from working in brothels.
Bio.com. “Calamity Jane,” at http://www.biography.com/people/calamity-jane-9234950
Jane, Calamity. The Autobiography of Calamity Jane. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks/w00014.html
Wikipedia, “Calamity Jane,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calamity_Jane